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- American immunologist and head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
When John Singer Sargent was asked to paint Lady Warwick’s portrait in 1905, he proudly said he would and added, “I’ll paint her so people will always have to look up to her.” Indeed, no one could view that work of art without “looking up.” I asked husband Gerry to stand by the huge painting so you can appreciate the size of the piece.
Lady Warwick was a wealthy woman of high British society, but that isn’t why Sargent held her in high esteem. He admired her because of her outreach and voice for those who were poor and downtrodden. She held big social fundraising events to carry out her mission to better the lives of the unfortunate. She advocated for better work conditions and educational equality. She was a voice to end child labor. She founded technical, science and agricultural schools, and vocational education for women. (When I look at the portrait, I see her dress displaying her wealth, her eyes displaying her tiring hard work.)
Dr. Anthony Fauci came to my mind when I thought of someone who deserves a huge portrait, a person who deserves being “looked up” to. He’s 80 years old, almost 81. He’s had a very successful career, time to put his feet up, relax and feel proud of his many accomplishments in treating AIDS, SARS, swine flu, and ebola. He also is responsible for developing therapies for many previously fatal diseases. But does he retire? He can’t let himself retire when he sees such a need to help our nation and the world with COVID-19. He has dedicated his life to public service and once more feels a calling.
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Dr. Fauci is a physician, a scientist, an immunologist. He is chief medical advisor to the president and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he oversees research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases, a position he has held for over 50 years. He was appointed to that position under President Reagan and has served under seven administrations. There is no one with more experience or more success. He has received many prestigious awards for his work, even the country’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Gerry’s oncologist recently talked with us about Dr. Fauci and his encouragement about the importance of getting vaccinated. Our doctor has great admiration for him and talked about how remarkable it is that the vaccine was developed so quickly and how fortunate we are to have such a big supply in our country. We asked him why he thought some folks were reluctant to get vaccinated, and he said that the medical issue has become a political one. The reasoning for that is something I don’t understand.
However, when I checked out Dr. Fauci’s biography, I read that a similar response happened when he was working on a solution for AIDS. Many activists relentlessly attacked his work, yet he persevered, and in the end when his successful treatment was acknowledged, the opponents called him “the only true and great hero.”
I can’t imagine the stress this devoted man is under. He has been director of NIAID since 1984 and has saved millions of lives. He was first in his class when he graduated from Cornell University’s Medical College. I am thankful for you, Dr. Fauci, and I will send this article to your office. In my book, you still rank first, and I hope someday soon everyone will say, “You are a true and great hero.” My good friend calls you “a knight in shining armor”
This is the season to think about who and what we are thankful for, and who we look up to. Who do you think deserves a huge portrait?
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Carole Gariepy is a Phillipston resident and author of “In Isolation.”
This article originally appeared on Gardner News: Column: Dr. Anthony Fauci deserves a huge portrait for COVID fight